Individuals and communities are protected from preventable diseases and epidemics by maintaining routine immunization during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, influenza and pneumonia immunizations are critical.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. Type A and B influenza viruses are the two main types of influenza viruses that cause seasonal flu epidemics each year. Influenza A viruses are classified into subtypes based on changes in the proteins on their surfaces, such as (H1N1) and (H3N2). Various flu types and subtypes cause disease during flu season.
The structure of influenza viruses is constantly changing. “Antigenic drift” is one method. Drift occurs when modest mutations in influenza virus genes cause changes in the virus’s surface proteins. Influenza virus surface proteins are “antigens,” which means they are recognized by the immune system and can induce a variety of immunological responses, including the development of antibodies that can prevent infection. As influenza viruses multiply, changes associated with antigenic drift develop over time (i.e., infect a host and make copies of themselves).
The majority of influenza vaccinations are made to target the virus’s surface proteins and antigens. Antigenic drift causes small changes in antigenic traits, resulting in influenza viruses with identical antigenic properties. This means that antibodies against flu viruses produced by human immune system will most likely recognize and respond to antigenically identical flu viruses. Minor antigenic drift changes, on the other hand, might accumulate over time and result in antigenically distinct viruses. As a result, the immune system of the body may fail to recognize and prevent infections caused by new flu viruses.
An “antigenic shift” is another form of alteration. The term “slippage” refers to a fundamental alteration in influenza viruses that leads in the appearance of new surface proteins. A new influenza A subtype could emerge as a result of an antigenic change. In the spring of 2009, an H1N1 virus including genes from North American pigs, Eurasian pigs, humans, and birds infects people and spreads swiftly, resulting in a pandemic.
Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body pains, headaches, and weakness are the most typical flu symptoms. Vomiting and diarrhea may occur in certain persons, however this is more prevalent in children than in adults. It’s crucial to remember that not everyone who has the flu gets a fever.
The flu usually passes in a few days to less than two weeks for most individuals, but some people suffer complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and lead to death. Pneumonia is a serious complication of the flu that can result from infection with the flu virus alone or from a co-infection of the flu virus and bacteria. Sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate flu complications; pneumonia is a serious complication of the flu that can result from infection with the flu virus alone or from a co-infection of the flu virus and bacteria.
Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), inflammation of the muscle tissues (myositis, rhabdomyolysis), and multi-organ failure are all possible complications of the flu (for example, respiratory and kidney failure). Infection of the respiratory tract with the influenza virus can cause an overactive inflammatory response in the body, leading to sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection. The virus can exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions. Persons with asthma, for example, may have asthma episodes if they get the flu, and people with chronic heart disease may see their health worsen as a result of the flu.
Anyone can get the flu, and serious flu-related complications can strike anyone at any age, but some people are at a higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they become ill. Persons aged 65 and up, people of any age with certain chronic medical illnesses (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and children under the age of five are all included.
The common cold, like the flu, is an infectious respiratory infection, but the virus that causes it is distinct. The flu is caused by influenza viruses, but the common cold is caused by a variety of viruses such as rhinoviruses, parainfluenza, and seasonal coronaviruses. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, should not be confused with seasonal coronaviruses. Because the flu and the common cold have similar symptoms, distinguishing between the two can be challenging.
In general, the flu is more severe than a regular cold, with more severe symptoms and a faster onset. The common cold is usually less severe than the influenza virus. People with a cold are more likely than those with the flu to have a runny or stuffy nose. The common cold rarely leads to major health issues including pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalization. The flu has the potential to cause significant consequences. To distinguish between the two disorders, diagnostic tests are required.
It’s critical to understand the difference between influenza and the COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 is caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2, a novel form of coronavirus discovered in 2019. COVID-19 has spread quicker than flu in the susceptible population in the time since it was discovered. The time it takes for COVID-19 to cause symptoms (the incubation period) may be greater, and persons may be contagious for a longer period of time. Symptoms of COVID-19 may linger longer than those of the flu.
Because certain flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory disorders have similar symptoms, the distinction cannot be discerned only on the basis of symptoms. To determine the nature of the disease and confirm the diagnosis, disease-specific testing is required. The influenza and COVID-19 viruses can both infect and infect a person at the same time. The flu usually passes in a few days to two weeks for most people, but some people develop significant complications that necessitate hospitalization. COVID-19, in comparison to the flu, can cause more serious sickness in some persons.
Getting vaccinated every year is the best method to lower your chance of getting the flu and its potentially deadly complications. Vaccines also aid the healthcare system by reducing the severity of disease, hospitalizations, and fatalities. All influenza vaccines this season are designed to protect against all four influenza virus types and subtypes. Everyone over the age of six months should have a flu shot every year, ideally by the end of October.
It is especially crucial to vaccinate persons who are at a higher risk of getting major flu complications to lower their risk of severe flu. Young children, pregnant women, those with certain chronic health disorders such as asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease, and people aged 65 and up are all at higher risk of catastrophic flu complications. In order to avoid acquiring the flu, healthcare workers and anyone who live with or care for those at high risk should get vaccinated. Children under the age of six months are at risk for severe flu, yet they are too young to be immunized. Caregivers, on the other hand, should be vaccinated.
Efforts to stop SARS-CoV-2 from spreading have resulted in a reduction in routine preventative treatment, such as vaccinations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the continuation or restoration of routine vaccination is crucial for safeguarding individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and epidemics. Vaccination reduces infections that cause hospitalisation and put additional load on the health system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza vaccination for the 2021-2022 influenza season will be critical to reducing the impact of respiratory disorders caused by influenza and the resulting burdens on the healthcare system.
Getting a flu shot in September and October is usually a smart idea. By the end of October, everyone should be immunized. There are some extra factors to consider when it comes to vaccine timing for certain groups: Adults, particularly those 65 and older, should not be vaccinated in July or August since the vaccine’s preventive effect may wane before the flu season is complete.
Some children require two flu vaccine shots, with the second dosage administered at least four weeks following the first. As a result, children can be vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available, even in the summer months of July and August. People in their third trimester of pregnancy may want to consider getting an early immunization to safeguard their newborns throughout their first months of life.
The flu vaccination’s effectiveness varies substantially depending on the health and age of the person receiving the vaccine. The flu vaccine is most effective in healthy young adults and older children. Following immunization, some older people and people with certain chronic conditions may develop lower immunity. Even if you’ve been vaccinated, you can still acquire the flu. However, other studies have found that when people are vaccinated but still become sick, the flu vaccine lessens the severity of their sickness.
In those with heart disease and those who have had a heart attack, the flu shot has been linked to a lower risk of certain cardiac events. The flu vaccine may lower the risk of chronic lung disease worsening caused by the flu.
The flu vaccine doesn’t make you sick. Because the influenza vaccine viruses are killed (inactivated), they cannot make the person who receives the vaccine sick. Pain, redness, and/or swelling at the injection site, headache, fever, and muscle aches are all common adverse effects of the flu vaccine, but they are usually minor and short-lived compared to flu symptoms.
The flu vaccine should not be given to children under the age of six months or to those who have severe, life-threatening allergies to any component of the flu vaccine. People who are allergic to eggs or any of the vaccine’s ingredients, those who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, and people who have any moderate-to-severe sickness that hasn’t been diagnosed or treated should speak with their doctor before getting the flu vaccine.
Although there is insufficient information on the use of COVID-19 vaccinations in conjunction with other vaccines, such as flu vaccines, the rate of probable adverse events was similar in various studies when the vaccines were given alone or in combination with other vaccines. When various vaccines, such as COVID-19 and flu vaccines, are to be provided, they are injected at different injection sites to distinguish any local reactions. Influenza vaccine should be delayed for anyone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms, until they meet the requirements for being released from isolation.
In contrast to influenza, colds, and COVID-19, pneumonia is the most common cause of pneumococcal bacteria in both children and adults. Otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear), sinusitis, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord), and bloodstream infection are all disorders caused by pneumococcal bacteria.
Those with immunosuppressive diseases (hematological cancers, HIV infection, etc.) or drug use, those without a spleen or dysfunction, those with chronic heart, lung (including asthma), liver, and kidney disease, those with cochlear implant surgery, CSF leakers, alcoholism, and tobacco use are all at risk for pneumococcal bacteria-related diseases. Children under the age of 5, healthy people aged 65 and older, and those aged 5 and older with various conditions that enhance the risk of pneumococcal bacteria-related diseases should all receive the pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine.
The conjugated pneumococcal vaccine (KPA13) and the polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine (PPA23) are two forms of pneumococcal vaccines used to protect against pneumonia and other pneumococcal infections. It is the most efficient technique for increasing antibody response to use polysaccharide vaccination after conjugate vaccine.
The polysaccharide vaccine can be given up to three times with a five-year delay between each dose. Conjugate vaccinations, on the other hand, are typically given in a single dose to adults. The immunization schedule varies depending on the disease and the age of the child.
Both vaccines can be given at the same time as the flu vaccine, as long as they are given to different parts of the body.